Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bat Week

Oh, my goodness--it's almost Halloween!  (Which means it's also almost my birthday and the day of my dental surgery.)  As someone who loves this holiday of changing leaves and cobwebs and spooky movies (Corpse Bride is a must-see), I'm incredibly excited for Saturday.  I won't be trick-or-treating this year (dental surgery recovery plus wandering around late at night is apparently a big no, LOL), and I don't know if anyone will come to my house looking for little pretzel bags, but that doesn't really matter because this post isn't about candy.  It's about bats!

This face is SO adorable!
The bat is one of nature's most misunderstood animals, and many species of bat are endangered now due to human activity and a horrible fungal infection called "white-nose syndrome."  Not only are they crucial members of the ecosystem (pollination, bug control, etc.), but they're also adorable, wonderful little animals that desperately need our help.  As they're associated with Halloween, I think now is the perfect time to raise awareness about their struggles to survive so that more people understand their situation.  For more information on bats and what you can do to help them (and the planet), visit www.batcon.org.  Happy Bat Week!

<3 Frances

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Heatlhy Chocolatey Pumpkin Seed Snack

We're a week away from Halloween and deep into candy season, but some of us can't participate in the all-out chocolate fest.  If you can, that's great (just be sure to buy fair trade!), but if you're like me and can't, then here's a yummy, super fast alternative that's actually legitimately good for you!

Carob or cocoa powder
Pumpkin seeds (or walnuts)

Prep time
Under two minutes

1) Add about 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds to a very small bowl.
2) Add about 2 tsp. of carob or cocoa powder on top of the pumpkin seeds.
3) Add the smallest amount of water.
4) Stir together.
5) Eat!!

I know this isn't necessarily the most sugary, crazy-delicious treat out there, but it's still pretty darn good given how amazingly healthy it is.  Carob lowers cholesterol, acts as an antioxidant, and is full of calcium and selenium.   Pumpkin seeds are packed with fiber and protein.  Cocoa has antioxidants and magnesium.  Plus, it's a mood-booster!

<3 Frances

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Health Love: Elderberries

Elderberries . . . where do I even begin?  They've been a part of folklore for thousands of years, making it into the writings of everyone from the Ancient Greeks to Shakespeare, and they've got some pretty enviable healing properties.  A beautiful dark blue-purple color, they are full of anthocyanin, an antioxidant that acts as an anti-carcinogen and boosts the immune system.  "Antivirin," which is also found in elderberries, can even help to eliminate viruses!

I mentioned a few posts ago how there are a lot of illnesses going around this time of year (#fluseason), but elderberries have really helped to keep me from getting sick with anything. One of the ways I've gotten elderberries into my diet has been to boil them down into elderberry syrup.  If you don't have any fresh elderberries lying around, you can get this at the store or buy the berries in a capsule form, but, if you do happen to have the berries, this syrup can be a fun way to eat them.
  • Measure out 1/2 to 1 cup of elderberries into a pot.
  • Add 2 cups water.
  • Bring the water and berries to a boil. 
  • Lower the heat, allowing the mix to simmer.
  • Once you turn the stove off, strain the berries (if they're too watery), add in honey or ginger (if desired), and pour the mix into a container to store in the fridge.
You can use this syrup in tea, take it on a spoon, or do what I do and add it to your oatmeal in the morning.  Fun!

<3 Frances 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to the Future....Today

It is officially October 21st, 2015, the day made famous by Back to the Future Part II.  A lot has happened since the 1980s, and even though we don't have flying cars or hover boards, the movie did correctly predict that we'd have 3-D movies and flat-screen TVs.   Since Back to the Future Part II, which was made in 1989, was set in 1985, here are a few songs that came out that year.  Flashback time!

Simple Minds: "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

Tears for Fears: "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"

Kate Bush: "Running Up That Hill"

Madonna: "Crazy for You"

<3 Frances 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Playlist and STAR WARS!

Well, first off, the new Star Wars trailer is here, and we're very excited.  

In non-intergalactic news, though, here are some songs for your Tuesday.

Little India: "Like Vineyards"

Ellie Goulding: "Atlantis"

The Civil Wars: "20 Years"

<3 Frances

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Letting Go and Being Happy

I'll admit it: I'm a worrier.  I start thinking about things and can't stop, and before I know it I'm worrying and wondering and angsting.  But all that anxiety never does me any good.  It just raises makes my skin break out and wastes a lot of time that could've been spent being proactive or happy. That's what this post is about--letting go of things that are stressing you, looking at the world clearly, and prioritizing making your existence a happy one for you and everyone around you.  When we're worrying, we're not connecting with those around us in a positive way because we're too caught up in the ropes of hypothetical worst-case scenarios, and our worries often prevent us from resolving our situations, too.  Thinking about a situation and actually coming up with a solution is one thing, but worrying about something you can't control? That's dangerous and unhealthy.

A while ago, I learned about "worry trails"--the pathways that worries etch into your brain.  Each time you have worries, these pathways get deeper and deeper, and they become like a default setting for your thoughts.  It's your job to pull yourself OFF of the worry trails.  The less you use them, the less deep they'll be, and eventually they'll be powerless against you.  When you feel yourself falling into them, take a few deep breaths and use your senses to focus on what's around you.  What does it smell like?  What's the temperature?  Ground yourself in reality, and then repeat this mantra: "I do the best I can.  I am doing the best I can.  All I'm doing is all I can and need to do.  I am at peace with myself and with others."

<3 Frances

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sayonara, Stress

There's been a lot of stress in the atmosphere lately.  Upcoming tests, projects, the news, work, relationships, health . . . everyone has at least one reason to feel frazzled.  But all this anxiety isn't doing anybody any good.  We think about stress like it's this unavoidable and necessary entity in our lives, but that shouldn't be the case!  A little angst is normal, yeah, but letting stress overwhelm you is really, really bad for you.  If you feel your health is suffering in any way (acne, headaches, even disease!) and look into remedying it, you'll find almost immediately that one of the key ways to get better is to reduce stress.   Unfortunately, you, like everybody else (me included!), will probably ignore this because it seems too impossible to be worth it.  Here's your wake-up call: 

<3 Frances 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday Playlist

I'm sending everyone the Force on this October Thursday, and I'm hoping you all like today's playlist. It's got indie, a little Kate Bush, and a cover of Kate Bush, too....

Josh Ritter: "Girl in the War"

Greg Laswell: "This Woman's Work" (cover of Kate Bush)

Kate Bush: "Wuthering Heights"

Sigur Ros: "DauĂ°alogn"

Sleeping At Last: "Uneven Odds"

<3 Frances

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Increase Your Immunity

It feels like everyone I know is getting sick.  There's more than one illness going around right now, and a whole bunch of people have fallen victim to a variety of symptoms that include sore throats, coughing, and nausea.  Fun, right?  Yeah, no.
Fortunately, though, just as there are ailments, there are some easy, natural ways to give your immune system a bit of a boost.

1. Sleep! I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a good, long rest during the night.  When you're sleeping, your body can recharge itself, and your immune system will thank you by being extra strong in its efforts to keep all the bad bugs away.  Think of sleeping not as a luxury but as an absolutely essential task that is necessary to reinforce your defenses.  No sleep equals vulnerability, fatigue, and--you guessed it--illness.

How I feel...

2. Exercise.  If you're already sick, hitting the gym may not be the best idea, but, if you're trying to keep yourself well, getting exercise is a great way to condition and strengthen your immune system. Any sort of exercise--cardio, yoga, strength training--will improve your overall fitness and help you de-stress and detox, giving your immune system a sort of hug that will up its defense abilities.

3. Probiotics.  These "good bugs" will up the production of helpful antibodies, improving your immune strength.  According to this article, athletes taking probiotics had 40% fewer colds.

4. Elderberry. This is a personal favorite!  Antioxidants work wonders for your body, and elderberries can even help make your flu go away faster!  #awesome

5. Vitamin C. Vitamin C can help fight off harmful bacteria, and it has antioxidant properties, too.  Yay!

6. Healthy foods.  I know, I know--we hear this all the time.  But that's only because it's so true!  Eating wholesome, organic, healthy foods (blueberries, broccoli, squash...) really does help make you healthier, inside and out.

Want more info?  Check out these articles:

"7 Ways Vitamin C Boosts the Immune System" 

"How to Boost Your Immune System" 

"Natural Solutions; Boost Your Immune System"

Stay healthy!
<3 Frances

Monday, October 5, 2015

Healthy Fall Food Favorites

With the harvest season comes a whole variety of yummy seasonal produce that--wait for it--has awesome health benefits!  Here are some of our favorite autumnal fruits and vegetables to make your plate pretty and your heart happy <3.

Pumpkin...and Pumpkin Seeds!
Pumpkins as a food are to autumn meals what Jack the Pumpkin King is to Halloween: 100% essential.  I'm not talking about the sugary (but delicious) latte flavor, though. I'm talking good, old-fashioned real pumpkin.  What are some of its health benefits?
  • Pumpkins are PACKED with Vitamin A, which is great for your eyesight
  • Phytosterols in pumpkin seeds can lower LDL cholesterol.  
  • Beta-carotene can reduce your risk of cancer.
  • Carotenoids can help prevent wrinkles.
See this article for more info. 

There are so many different kinds of squash--butternut, spaghetti, sweet dumpling--but they're all delicious, and many of them offer the same health benefits. 
  • Squash is full of important nutrients: Vitamin A, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, iron....
  • Vitamin C and magnesium can help improve your immune system's ability to defend itself. #yes!
  • The B vitamins in squash can help regulate your metabolism and reduce your risk of diabetes.
  • Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation.
  • Magnesium and potassium are heart health superstars.
Check out this article for more info.
Cranberries are so adorable!  And sour!  But before you coat them in sugar, look at this article and grab a handful of organic, naturally-yummy cranberries.  (Just don't stain your shirt.)
  • Proanthocyanidins in cranberries help fight bacteria.
  • Cranberries have powerful antioxidant abilities and can reduce inflammation and your cancer risk.
  • Cranberries contain enzymes that help digestion.
  • Cranberries are really pretty to look at.  (Okay, this is an extra one, but it's true!)

<3 Frances

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Life Lessons from Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was one of the wisest women to walk the planet, and, in today's post, I want to share a bit of her wisdom as inspiration to get the month of October off to a good start.

<3 Frances